The CNRP (Cambodian National Rescue Party) held a second rally this morning to ask for an electoral reform. Over 2,000 people showed up, listening to the figureheads Kem Sokha, Mu Sochua, Prince Sisowath Thomico, before marching towards the European Union offices and the UN Human Rights offices to deliver a petition. The official campaign for the general elections has not started yet, but Prime Minister Hun Sen has already accused some CNRP members of having ties with terrorists and of being republicans.
The troubling presence of some 50 tuk-tuk drivers who were demonstrating simultaneously with the CNRP rally in front of the UN Human Rights offices to deliver a petition while at the same time using extremely offensive words towards UN Human Rights envoy Sorya Subedhi, prompted the UN to ask for police protection. There were indeed a few policemen in the shadow of a tree at the corner of the street. I am not sure the tuk tuk drivers deserve a photograph in this blog though.
One year ago ‘Quest for Land’, an App for the iPad, bundling 10 years of photographs about land issues in Cambodia was released. There will be an exhibition at Meta House, on Sothearos Boulevard (yes: in Phnom Penh) to celebrate.
It is the first time these photographs will be featured in an exhibition in Cambodia.
The exhibition will be open at 6:00 PM on May 29th and last for the following 2 weeks.
The exhibition is only the tip of the iceberg though… For the full experience go to iTunes: the ‘Quest for Land’ App developed by Robert Starkweather is available at THIS LINK. It contains over 700 photographs, spread over 20 chapters, and is enriched with a text by Robert Carmichael doing some in-depth analysis about the land grabbing situation in the country, and there are slideshows with soundtrack.
A short video showing you how ‘Quest for Land’ is built can be seen HERE…
A few of the photographs which will be shown at the exhibition:
Part of a storage area in the newly built Wing Star factory collapsed a few hours ago in Kompong Speu, some 50 Km from Phnom Penh, likely because of an overload. As of 11:00 AM 2 people were declared dead. The factory employs 8,000 workers who make sports shoes. Rescue teams arrived fairly quickly on the location, using modern equipment to disengage the victims. About 20 ambulances stood idle on the site.
(Updated 1:45 PM: it seems there are 3 dead and 7 injured. The factory manufactured Japanese ‘Asics’ sports shoes.)
(Updated 11:15 AM on May 17th: Not 3 but 2 deceased – 1 girl of 15 – and 9 injured. Added photographs to total 18)
My contribution to the ‘7 Days in Myanmar‘ project, gathering 30 photographers during one week in Myanmar, is now on my website in full screen size at THIS LINK.
You can also follow – and ‘Like’ – ’7 Days in Myanmar’ on Facebook at this link. The book should be published by Editions Didier Millet at the end of this year, kind of November or December.
The story description goes as follows:
‘Borders are often blind and do not go into the details of ethnicity. Myanmar is not different. A patchwork of ethnic groups are to be found on both sides of Myanmar’s borders. Living conditions of many members of the ethnic minorities are increasingly difficult, particularly in the unstable and war torn region of Eastern Myanmar. The minorities living there basically do subsistence farming on small pieces of land clinging to the slopes of the hills. An increase in life expectancy has developed demographic pressure, triggering rural migration, pushing villagers outside of their community to gain additional income as daily labourers on road constructions or on landowner’s farms. With economic sanctions crippling the country, one obvious place to go to is the bordertowns, where trading is easier and development faster, creating job opportunities. Since two decennia Tachileik at the Thai border has thus attracted scores of tribal people, mainly Akha who have relatives living on the Thai side, and, since 2004, even more Burmese. Tachileik grew from 100,000 people to 300,000 in a little more than 10 years. Now that the sanctions on Myanmar have been lifted, the attraction of Tachileik will be even bigger. The looming unbridled market economy will increase income disparities, leaving behind the ethnic minorities who were not given the same education opportunities as their Burmese co-citizens. The result is that many will not benefit from the development of the country. They will lag behind on the social ladder and, like the street children in Tachileik, risk dropping out altogether. The cultural identity of the Akha and all the other ethnic minorities, already being threatened by a voyeuristic tourism in their own village, will endure difficult times for sure. They will be yet another series of groups of people normalised by development.’
It was your 61st birhtday and I, just like many other Cambodians, enjoyed a nice holiday in Kep.
We wish you a happy birthday…
A first set of photographs I took in Myanmar is now available on my website at this link. They are a first attempt to try and grasp the complexity of the ethnic diversity in Yangon. Hopefully I will be able to work more on this story in the near future.
There are 135 ethnic groups listed in Myanmar. It is a patchwork, for now still more or less held together by a strong central power. First by the British Empire and later by the Myanmar army. Yangon, in essence still the real capital of the country, seems to be a concentrated vision of that cultural diversity, although three groups are clearly more represented than the 132 remaining: the Burmese of course, those from Indian descent and the Muslim. The intimate, intertwined and physical relationship of these three main groups in the capital is some sort of guarantee that at least they will HAVE to live together in the rest of the country. This is a first unraveling attempt.
The photographs were taken before and after the ’7 Days in Myanmar’ project…
Flying back home to Phnom Penh this afternoon… Time to go through the basics in Yangon before leaving: ferry, Bogyoke market, Schwedagon… Initially I thought I would not be able to post that much during these Myanmar days. It turned out to be a very productive trip. More on my website soon. Stay tuned.
Having been parked by the attendant in the ‘Upper Class’ wagon of the Circular Train in Yangon instead of the much more interesting popular wagon I jumped off at the third or fourth station and ended up walking in the Yankin township. Sure enough I was invited in a temple after 15 minutes… Yangon or Mahabalipuram? Myanmar or India?